Pacquiao vs. Ugas is still a solid fight: It’s just not Spence, but still good

Michael Rueda
pacquioa vs. ugas
Photo: Mike Dixon/Vegas Sports Today

Pacquiao vs. Ugas this Saturday pits living legend Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao against a welterweight champion – just not the one announced a few months back. Instead of Pacquiao vs. Spence, we’re now getting Pacquiao vs. Ugas.

Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) was due to face unified champion Errol Spence, but Spence suffered a very serious eye injury and had to withdraw. In his place steps in Yodrenis Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) the WBA “super” champion. His belt was Pacquiao’s belt that was taken due to inactivity while Ugas was the regular champion and elevated to super.

Lost yet? Don’t worry I’ve followed the sport forever and the WBA is always confusing. No matter what, the fight is legitimate and for a world title. While it’s not the marquee matchup everyone expected, the Pacquiao vs. Ugas fight should be entertaining enough.

Pacquiao vs. Ugas isn’t the fight we wanted, but it’s still a good fight

Once the Pacquiao vs. Spence fight was canceled it felt like a gut punch. It became the second major fight scrapped or postponed in the summer with the other being Fury vs. Wilder 3. It was a fight that many were looking forward to and with a little over a week to go fans were amped only to receive the bad news.

In Ugas, you get a legit Top 6 welterweight who holds a belt. Ugas has also won 11 of his last 12 fights and the one he lost was a controversial decision to Shawn Porter. Ugas has continued to push forward, and luck finally swung his way after his victory over Abel Ramos and eventually being elevated to “super” champion and being in the right place at the right time.

Pacquiao vs. Ugas
Yodrenis Ugas works out in preparation for his fight against Manny Pacquiao. (Premier Boxing Championships photo)

When you look at both fighters in their last 21 fights combined, they have gone a combined 18-3 with each having a questionable decision loss as well. Each fighter has established themselves in the weight class: Ugas more recently and Pacquiao long ago.

Pacquiao vs. Ugas – Fighter strategy

Pacquiao: Movement, combinations, angles, and feints.

Pacquiao should use his movement with his quick hits and go in and out. Use the feints to place Ugas in bad positions to land more of his combinations and with the hand speed he may land something to hurt Ugas. Pacquiao should use that ability to keep Ugas off his game with the movement and possibly catch Ugas with something that may lead to a knockdown.

Ugas: Box, use size and distance and don’t be caught up in the moment.

Ugas got into this position with work and belief in himself, so he should keep at it. He needs to remain confident and stick to the game plan. If he’s able to just box and keep at it with the distance he should give himself a good chance. If he uses it, he may frustrate Pacquiao who will have his first fight in over two years. Ugas also must not let the moment be too big for him. He must not allow himself to be swallowed up by that moment. It’s a big moment for him and if he is able to keep himself grounded, he gives himself a great chance.

Pacquiao vs. Ugas Prediction

I believe this will be a good fight as Pacquiao is motivated to pick his old belt back up. Ugas has the opportunity of a lifetime and I believe he will leave his heart in that ring. I do think though that Pacquiao will be too much and give another good performance and pick up his second stoppage since 2009. Ugas in his last fight was stunned and wobbled a couple of times and I think Pacquiao will land more and eventually get to the point of knockout or stoppage. I’m going KO/TKO in 9 rounds. The question is what comes after if Pacquiao wins. Will Pacquiao ride off into the sunset or wait for Spence or Terrence Crawford.